Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sock Innovation - yippee!

It's here, it's here, it's really, really here! Until I clasped this in my clammy paws on Friday afternoon I did not dare to believe the emailed dispatch note could be telling the truth - the long awaited, much anticipated, envy maxing Sock Innovation mine - all mine - in time for the weekend? Indeed:So I loves it like I knew I would, I'm a big fan of the cuff down approach and so this book suits me very well. The design/construction information is brilliant, I'm not too sure I will ever feel the need to design a sock from scratch given the never ending list of patterns I want to knit but it's so helpful for understanding and customising what already exists. In my first buzz through I've already learnt that I could swap in an afterthought heel very easily for the short row heels I'm not so keen on.

However in a very non-innovative way I've dug straight into a pattern I'm unlikely to change at all - Angee for me first up and I'm loving the layout with multiple charts. I think it actually scared me off choosing a couple of the other patterns as it makes some of them look quite daunting but in practice it means that the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I should lodge that piece of information somewhere useful in my brain - a short pattern may actually sometimes be the hardest to knit!

PS - if you have the book and haven't checked this link for errata I would recommend you do.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When a knit doesn't quite live up

There's the hip-hip-hooray of a great FO and then there's the blah-blah-blahness of a FO that just does not live up to that initial idea of what you were going to create.

The success of Francis meant I felt fortified with hip-hip-hoorayness to face the serious blahs that had overtaken the slippers started last month. I had high hopes for these: they look beautiful in the picture, I did my research on the few projects made on Ravelry, the pattern has been in the 'thinking about knitting list' forever, the yarn was some of the first yarn stashed back when I barely knew what a stash was and was misadventuring in yarn substitutions, I even had some cute fabric scraps for the insoles.
I wore through my favourite slippers not long ago so it seemed like a project that was destined to be. The first slipper zipped off the needles but I couldn't believe it would fit me and I seamed it up as soon as I was done knitting to check it would fit, it did but it was blatantly apparent that it was not going to look like the one in the picture. Not ever, no way, no how. So off the slipper sloped to the naughty knits corner for a little time out, time for me to give up the hopes for the slippers I had in mind and try to decided if the slippers that were appearing in reality were good enough.

In the end the speed of the knit and the utility of the finished articles pushed me on - these were never going to be the pretty slippers I'd planned but finishing them seemed about the same effort as ripping for a more useful result. Honestly though when I looked at these ugly ducklings next to the swan in the pattern book, well they looked like lilies for the frog pond if I ever saw any.Luckily the addition of the insoles dragged these back from the brink - these may not be as pretty as the picture but I'll wear them and those polka dots make me smile at least.
Pattern: Slippers from Debbie Bliss Simple Living
Yarn: Patons Mercerised Cotton DK, 1/2 100g ball - Orchard (2721)
Needles: 3.75mm Wooden Straights
Started: 5 April 2009
Finished: 27 May 2009
Modifications: Added cardboard as well as some old leather insoles before covering and some 'pleather' for soles.
I think using a mercerised cotton may have left the knit with less structure than an unmercerised, less slippery cotton would have done? Anyway, they are what they are - a bit blah but useful.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


There is something about blog titles that brings out the worst puns in me. Anyway this really is a post about a door.

See it's a beautiful door.It's not just that though. This is a beautiful door that used to be covered in approximately 216 coats of gloss paint from dark green though chocolate brown to yellowing white. This is a beautiful door that thanks to a big vat of chemicals was set free. This is a beautiful door that was set free from the old gloss paint to have a lot of tinted beeswax rubbed lovingly, painstakingly, arm-achingly into it. This is a beautiful door, free of old gloss, carefully hand waxed by my (now less) fair hands and hung in place by the 1TB. This is a door made beautiful by our hard work and now it hangs at the entrance to our bathroom. A bathroom that has been without a door, be it ugly or beautiful, since last August. Last August. Oh how I adoor it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bank Lolling-day Monday

Thank you all for your lovely comments on Francis R and I'm glad my photo plight amused.

We've had some glorious weather this weekend and I had my second garden knitting session of the season this afternoon. Lil would like to demonstrate that when she wants to she can sit beautifully for the camera.Or perhaps she was just queuing to be next for the deckchair!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Best FO Yet

Pattern: Francis Revisited
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed, Puff, 9.5 balls
Needles: 6mm Harmony Circulars, a couple of lengths
Started: 27 March 2009
Finished: 20 May 2009
Modifications: Row gauge was off so I moved the shaping rows around. I added three extra increase rounds to make the cowl neck bigger to match the larger size and try and ensure that I got the same look as the original, if I did this again I'd make it bigger still. I think its common in patterns that the collar or neck is not any larger on larger sizes and can look a bit small when it's balanced against a larger size than the sample.

Very definitely my best jumper yet. It's true that there aren't many competitors in the race as I've only finished five fitted garments each of which has its issues:
there's the vest that doesn't have the most flattering necklineFlair with her insufficiently double-breasted front and irritating length sleeves,
Mum's cabled cardigan that was a pain in the creating and my two shrugs - Iris which I loved when it was finished but which rides up to sit over my boobs when I wear it (not quite the look I was after) and the KSH shrug which is very pretty but was far from my original hope for it.
I do have a fondness for all of these items, they're part of my knitting history and though I've picked on their faults here they all have their good points. Still Francis beats them all as she's the closest in feel and fit to what I originally envisaged when I started knitting and it was a fun knit too. I'm sure that even if there were many more she'd be close to the top of the pile, a definite winner.

What's that? I haven't shown you many photos of her? No, but don't I look happy up there at the top? This must have been early on in the photo extravaganza that took place in an effort to get a decent shot of this jumper. Between cats, bad posture, bad hair moments, sneery faces and unrealistic body image there isn't another shot I'm really happy with. Still I know if I were reading this I'd want to see a sample of the failed attempts so here to entertain you are a few of the best of the worst of my blog photo shoots ever:
Jumper good, tummy held in, but the concentration was too much to get a smile out too. See the cat in the top left? No? Oh don't worry, the 1TB was much more interested in photo-ing her than me:
Then there was the idea of posing with the cat:
Or maybe sitting down with her on my lap (I think I'm checking the sleeve for damage from the scrabbling claws of the escape artist):
Or perhaps the other cat, or perhaps not:
Crikey I think this one is actually okay if you don't look too closely at my hair:
And I like this one if only I wasn't sneering:Oh no wait, here's the sneery one:
What a bloody good job I like the jumper!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No time to knit...

...I am too busy Mhing-ing!We found this beautiful card game - a simplified version of Mahjong with playing cards rather than tiles - at a charity shop on Saturday. It's my new favourite thing and knitting is crying in the corner. Well actually knitting will still get the odd look in when I can't persuade anyone to play Mhing which given this 514 point hand and my subsequent gloating may come sooner than I would like.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In print

Look it's my blog in a magazine!
Thanks to Knitty in Pink for spotting this and to Knitting magazine for writing very nice things even if it makes me feel like I should take less close up shots and let you all see the dust, debris and tumbleweeds of cat fur!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Watching paint dry

I think I'm knitting my best ever garment, it's looking better than I hoped, or more accurately as good as I had hoped at this stage (this would typically be the serious misgivings stage when all that exciting potential threatens to come to no good). It is not however the most photogenic of items. Watching this grow is the knitting blog equivalent of watching paint dry:
So instead of more shots of Francis this meme I stole from Rachel and photos from my walk in the park this morning. Hurrah for gorgeous May days.
Eight Things About Me

1. My middle name is Louise
2. I've lived in Oxford for nearly 7 years now, it started to feel like home about a year ago
3. I think I hate DIY, I certainly employ my best procrastinating skills to avoid it
4. I harbour secret ambitions to run a tea shop - do you think they would like an English tea rooms in Tuscany? I could see myself there
5. I took up knitting because I have ME and needed to do something more in life than work, sit on the sofa and sleep - I think it was one of the wisest things I ever did
6. I think that lemon cake is probably the finest flavour of cake, today at least
7. I have one younger brother
8. I wouldn't like to live without tea
Eight TV shows I watch

1. I've mentioned my Murder She Wrote habit before
2. There's also: Lewis
3. Morse
4. Marple
5. Poirot
6. Midsomer Murders
7. And lately some of the US ones like: Numb3rs
8. The Mentalist

It is testament to the amount of TV I watch that I do sometimes watch things other than whodunnits...
Eight Restaurants (around Oxford) I Love

1. Mama Mias
2. Edamame
3. Cibo!
4. Wagamamas
5. Chiang Mai Kitchen
6. The Old Parsonage - for afternoon tea
7. Karma
8. The Mole Inn
Eight Things that Happened Today

1. I went for walk in the park
2. I watched Match of the Day with my 1TB
3. I spent a long time soaking in the tub
4. I knit
5. I read the paper
6. I ate leftover pizza (thanks to Rose Red for the encouragement to try this recipe)
7. I played on Bookmooch
8. I
wrote this

Ah the pleasures of a lazy Sunday.
Eight Things I Look Forward To

1. Sitting on my sofa with my knitting
2. My dinner
3. Birthdays, Christmas, any days with excuses for celebrations
4. Cracking the spine of a great book
5. Daylight hours getting longer
6. Finishing socks - mainly because the knitting finishes and a tiny bit of sewing later you're done
7. Sleep
8. My first sip of tea for the day
Eight Things I Wish For

1. Kindness - to each other, creatures, the planet
2. More time to knit
To be able to eat anything I fancied without worrying about how fattening it is
4. Teleporting
5. More bookshelves (or walls to put them on)
6. A garden swing seat
7. A gardener (and a cleaner)
That all my family and friends lived no more than an hour away
Eight Songs I Just Listened To
(I never know what any songs I listen to are called so I'm changing this for Eight Favourite Bands/Artists)

1. Massive Attack
2. Lamb
3. The Drifters
4. Amy Winehouse
5. The Doors
6. The Beach Boys
7. Eels
8. Sparklehorse
Eight Favourite Movies

1. The Thomas Crown Affair
2. Amelie
3. The Usual Suspects
4. Memento
5. LA Confidential
6. Dogma
7. Lost in Translation
8. Finding Neverland
Well if you made it to the end then perhaps you like to read these weird little memes as much as I do - let me know if you do this one, I'd love to read it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Bake Holiday Monday

French-style Yogurt Cake. Just one of the three birthday cakes baked with my 1TB today (ginger and carrot make up the trio). A Homemade Life mixed with a bank holiday = the perfect recipe for happy kitchen time.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy May Day

"A small minority, mainly strangers, would look long at her in casually passing by, and grow momentarily fascinated by her freshness, and wonder if they would ever see her again: but to almost everybody she was a fine and picturesque country girl, and no more."
Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy


Thank you to Clarabelle for the original suggestion and to Bells for bringing Tess back to the forefront of my mind; let's hope that unlike our tragic heroine our May Day happiness lasts long and strong.
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